Chris Leslie, shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, has sent a letter to Trade Minister Lord Green demanding answers about HSBC’s money laundering problems in America and Mexico. Here is his letter in full.
As you will know, the US Senate Homeland Security Sub Committee on Investigations this week reported on a series of significant alleged failings at HSBC Bank during your tenure as Chief Executive and Chairman. As a senior Government Minister with an ongoing role in banking policy, I would be grateful if you could place on the record – at the earliest opportunity - an assurance that you took every appropriate step if and when you became aware of the issues raised by this report.
I am sure you will share my concern at the comment by Senator Carl Levin who on Tuesday said: “HSBC's chief compliance officer and other senior executives in London knew what was going on but allowed the deceptive conduct to continue.” In pointing to the changes in management that have taken place at HSBC subsequently, the Bank themselves have said in a statement “We will apologise, acknowledge these mistakes, answer for our actions and give our absolute commitment to fixing what went wrong.” It is therefore a matter of significant public interest that you also have the opportunity to explain what, if anything, you were aware of during your time at the bank. In particular, I would be interested to know:
1. To what extent did Head of Compliance David Bagley share his concerns with you about the deficiencies in HSBC anti-money laundering controls?
2. What assessment did you make at the time of the role that HSBC played in servicing such high risk affiliate banks?
3. Did you know about the alleged circumvention of safeguards designed to block transactions to those with potential links to drug cartels, rogue regimes or terrorist organisations?
4. What steps did you take to mitigate circumstances where HSBC may have been disregarding terrorist financing links?
5. Did you voice your concerns about the clearing of suspicious volumes of bulk travellers’ cheques?
6. What was your opinion at the time of the interaction between HSBC and the number of bearer share accounts listed in the Senate sub-committee report?
I am confident that you can answer all these questions completely, but want to encourage you to address them also in the public domain. It is important that Ministers are seen to be as open as possible with the public and to account for their actions. I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Chris Leslie MP